The Defense

“And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” Acts 26:6-7 (KJB)

The apostle is now standing before the King of Israel.  I cannot help but think that as Paul stands there he could be thinking of one day standing before Jesus, the King of kings, and giving an account of his life.

Now as he stands before King Agrippa he is giving his own defense for the Jews accusations against him. Some of the same accusations brought against Jesus.  False charges are always charged by those who have no true rebuttal against the faithful.

Paul has been told by the Lord that he would go to Rome (Acts 23:11).  Is he worried?  I really doubt it.  Is he fearful?  He is trusting the Lord for His defense, and deliverance and trip to Rome.

Agrippa was a man who was educated in the Jewish religion, and the  apostle used that to defend his own ministry and words.  If you will remember our Lord said that some of His disciples would stand before kings (Mark 13:9).  Of course in that reference it is dealing with the last days.  Just a thought here: the last days began with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; possibly even the birth of Jesus.

Let us who are in Christ continue in the faithfulness of the word of God and the gospel of Christ Jesus.  Lord God Almighty keep us in Your powerful hands to always be faithful. Give us boldness through the filling of Your Spirit, that in and through all things we might walk with You.

Shall I Crucify Your King?

“And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’  But they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him.’ Pilate saith unto them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.'” John 19:14-15  (KJB)

In this scene Jesus is being tried for accused sins and transgressions; not actual charges, but false charges brought about by those who hated God, His word, and His Son.

Jesus is the King of the Jews.  It was those who should have known the Scripture best which denied Him, were jealous of His successes, His power, and His followers.  One of the chief priest even said that “One must die for our nation” (John 11:49-51).

Here stood the Man, the God-Man whose character, power, miracles, grace, mercy, holiness, and justness was clearly displayed by His life.  He lived solely to do the business of His Father (Luke 2:49), from the early age of 12 years.  He healed the sick, caused the lame to walk, cleansed lepers, raised the dead.  Hey, He defied the elements by walking on water, speaking to storms and they ceased.  He cast out demons.

How could these religious “Leaders” be so blind?  Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?”.  Their sad, and hateful words say it all about their dark hearts… “We have no king but Caesar?”

When citizens of a nation which is enslaved by another nation chooses the king of the occupying nation over their own king; especially like these do they are denying God.  These Jewish leaders should have been looking for the coming of their Messiah; maybe they were, but were not expecting this Jesus; this suffering Servant of God; willing to die for the sins of the world.

For the Christian of 2019 are you aware of; are you alert to the words of your King?  Jesus is your King.  He has called us unto Himself, turning from sin to His righteousness, to live in holiness.  Are we saying the same thing those religious leaders of His day said when we choose to go our own way, do our own thing?  Are we not saying, “I have no king but Caesar/myself?”

Life

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.  For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
  John 5:24-29  (KJB)

Life began with God. Life continues into eternity by Him and with Him.  I believe everyone has a desire to live forever. That, is a God-given thing for all of Adam kind.  Some seek life and living through science, and medical means.  We all fight against sickness and diseases of all kinds for life.  Eventually our fight with these things must give way to death.  Sad, but true.

We are frail, failing, fallen beings in need of grace, and help from our Creator.

I have Good News for you today.  You can live forever.

Did you read the words of Jesus above?  If you hear His words, and believe on Him that sent Him you have everlasting, or eternal life; there is no condemnation to any who have believed Him (Romans 8:1), and they have passed from death to LIFE.

There is much to take in those six verses of Scripture.  Life is what Jesus offers.  Eternal life is what He gives to any and all who will hear His word and believe.

My question for you right now is; Which resurrection will you be in?  The first one or the last one.  The first is the resurrection of the Just – those who have been declared just by God because of His Son.  The second is the resurrection of the unjust, the wicked who have rejected God and His grace.

See Revelation 20:5-6 and 20:12-15.

Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Son of Man, and God the Son there is LIFE for all who will hear.

The Old Fox

“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, ‘Get Thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill Thee.  And He said unto them,

‘Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third I shall be perfected.’” Luke 13:31-32  (KJB)

It seems to me from the history which Jesus has had with these Pharisees, that they are only, themselves doing the real tempter’s work (that is the devil’s); trying to get Jesus out of Jerusalem before He was to die, and run from the work He came to do.

Jesus’s response was to respond without evil intent but to really assure His tempter’s help that He was aware of Herod’s  and of their feeble attempts.

Jesus was going to continue His work of healing and ministry right on up to the time of His death on the cross.  He would continue to heal, to cast out demons; and when He died on the third day He would be  perfected – He would rise from the grave in His glory.

That is the response every man and woman of God should do.  Let us continue being faithful to God’s will and glory until our  time of death, then He will raise us up with perfect bodies.

Come to  Jesus.  He died for you.  He carried away the guilt and condemnation of your sin in His burial. He arose from the grave conquering death and the grave, and He will raise you up alive too.

As They Followed Him They Were Afraid

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him,
‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again.’” Mark 10:32-34  (KJB)

This was the final time Jesus and His disciples would be going up to Jerusalem.  The disciples seemed to understand that, but not really understanding the coming consequences of this trip.  They had heard Jesus mentioned His death; and they had seen the hatred of the religious leaders toward Him.

They probably were afraid of any coming backlash against them, because they were His followers; and of what would become of them following the worst they could imagine.

Verse 32 was my focus as I was reading chapters 10-12 today. There are times I am fearful.  Sometimes it is a senseless fear.  I mean by that it is something contrived in my own mind. Other times it comes from real time and life situations. When ever fear invades is usually when I am not expecting it.  When I am afraid I choose to hear what the Master says, rather than what my fearful thoughts have imagined.

I have learned that I must question my fears; never my faith.  I am still learning that.

Don’t you just love the way Jesus comforts, and encourages His disciples?  He tells them the events that are going to happen; the ones they are fearful of; but does not leave them without the promise, “He shall rise again.”

Are you going through a fearful situation? Is it something too big for you to handle? Is it a contriving of your own mind?  Either way remember He has risen.  He died on the cross for the sins of the world; yours and mine; then, He was buried, and He rose again.  He forever lives that we too might live and reign with Him forever.

The Man That Makes the LORD His Trust

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And He hath put a new song in my mouth, praise unto our God: many shall see and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”  Psalm 40:1-4  (KJB)

The LORD does indeed lift us, picks us up, out of the miry clay, the pit of sin, and sets our feet upon a rock; the Rock is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).

The way of sin is darkness, and cold. O, it may seem like the way to go at the time; it may seem like it is the comfortable thing; it may seem to be pleasurable, but it leads to shame, pain, misery, and death.  Be an instrument of praise to the LORD God.  Call on the name of the Lord and be delivered from that pit to which you are imprisoned.

Let me share with you the thoughts of Charles Spurgeon from the Treasury of David on verse four…

“Blessed.” This is an exclamation similar to that of thePsa_1:1-6, “Oh, the happiness of the man.” God’s blessings are emphatic, “I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed,” indeed and in very truth. “Is that man that maketh the Lord his trust.” Faith obtaineth promises. A simple, single-eyed confidence in God is the sure mark of blessedness. A man may be as poor as Lazarus, as hated as Mordecai, as sick as Hezekiah, as lonely as Elijah, but while his hand of faith can keep its hold on God, none of his outward afflictions can prevent his being numbered among the blessed but the wealthiest and most prosperous man who has no faith is accursed, be he who he may. “And respecteth not the proud.” The proud expect all men to bow down and do them reverence, as if the worship of the golden calves were again set up in Israel; but believing mean are too noble to honour mere money-bags, or cringe before bombastic dignity. The righteous pay their respect to humble goodness, rather than to inflated self-consequence. Our Lord Jesus was in this our bright example. No flattery of kings and great ones ever fell from his lips; he gave no honour to dishonourable men. The haughty were never his favourites. “Nor such as turn aside to lies.” Heresies and idolatries are lies, and so are avarice, worldliness, and pleasure-seeking. Woe to those who follow such deceptions. Our Lord was ever both the truth and the lover of truth, and the father of lies had no part in him. We must never pay deference to apostates, time-servers, and false teachers; they are an ill leaven, and the more we purge ourselves of them the better; they are blessed whom God preserves from all error in creed and practice. Judged by this verse, many apparently happy persons must be the reverse of blessed, for anything in the shape of a purse, a fine equipage, or a wealthy establishment, commands their reverence, whether the owner be a rake or a saint, an idiot or a philosopher. Verily, were the arch-fiend of hell to start a carriage and pair, and live like a lord, he would have thousands who would court his acquaintance.  TREASURY OF DAVID, by Charles Spurgeon verse 4

The Secret Life of the Hypocrite

“As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honor is not seemly for a fool.
As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.
The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honor to a fool.
As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
The Great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? More hope of a fool than of him.”  Proverbs 26:1-12 (KJB)

The Secret Life of the Hypocrite –  Proverbs 26:1-28

Verses 1 – 12 —  Matters concerning the foolish individual.

Verse 1 –  The honor of a fool, a foolish person, is about as likely as “Snow in summer”, and as unneeded or as unwanted as “Rain in harvest”.  See 1 Samuel 12:17.  Verse 2 –  See Psalm 32:9.

vv. 4-5 –  These seem to be a contradiction; however it is a matter of judging when to be silent and when to speak.  Use discernment.

v. 12 –  Romans 12:16; Proverbs 29:20

Verses 13 – 16 —  A description of the slothful, lazy individual  (22:13).

v. 13 –  Excuses and difficulties, even dangers of the job are ever the slothful man’s heart and tongue.  Note the location of the lion [on the streets].  Lions do not inhabit streets, but rather the plains, woods, and fields. (20:4)

v. 15 –  Proverbs 19:24

Verses 17 – 23 —  The character of the “talebearer”.

From the Believer’s Bible Commentary – “I am more deadly than the screaming shell of a howitzer. I win without killing. I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea, and often as innocent. I never forget and seldom forgive. My name is Gossip!” Alanta Journal

“Prov. 26:17-22 These proverbs describe a person who uses his words carelessly. Examples include interfering in other people’s arguments (v. 17), deceiving people as a joke without concern for the consequences (vv. 18–19), and gossiping, especially where gossip provokes conflict (vv. 20–21). Verse 22 directly warns the reader that gossip is seductive, and the proverb serves as a bridge to the next section (vv. 23–28), on the liar.”  ESV Study Bible note

“He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; when he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart. Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.
Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.  A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” Proverbs 26:24-28

Verses 24 – 28 —  The deceitful, lying hypocrite.  Care will be taken by the wise individual when hearing the words of someone who might gain by the telling of lies.  Whether the lie be flattery, or denial of a charge one must hear with judging ears, and mind.

The hypocrite’s life ends up not being so secret.

Prepared for the Battle

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath. The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.  He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.
A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way. There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.  Proverbs 21:10-31 (KJB)

Prepared for the Battle – Proverbs 21:20-31

Verse 20 –  The treasure to be desired.  The oil in the dwelling of the wise.  Foolish spending.

Verse 21 –  Following righteousness and mercy.  The fruit of the find is righteousness and honor.

Verse 22 –  While the mighty may believe their wall is impregnable; the wise will scale the wall and defeat the city.  The confidence of the city is then cast down too.

Verse 23 –  More wisdom concerning the mouth and the tongue.  Keeping the mouth equals guarding what you say.  Those who will guard their mouth and tongue will have far less troubles and sorrows of soul.

Verse 24 –

“If you meet a proud and haughty man, just call him “Scoffer.” That’s his name! The name, of course, stands for what a person is. “For as his name is, so is he” (1 Sam. 25:25).”  From Believer’s Bible Commentary.

Verses 25-26 –  A difference in the slothful and the righteous.  The slothful desires big things, but refuses to labor; while the righteous labor in order that they might have to give to need.

Verse 27 –  Sacrifice of the wicked; the wicked mind.  Compare Cain’s sacrifice with Abel’s (Genesis 4:1-15); King Saul’s sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:10-15ff) with the heart of David (Psalm 51:1-19).

Verse 28 –

“The contrast of a false witness with one who hears indicates that a person who testifies falsely has chosen not to listen carefully to either the matter at hand or the requirements that a witness act justly. Both the person and the perjury of such a witness will ultimately perish, because it is the Lord who clearly sees and judges these things (vv. 2, 12) and causes the word of the faithful witness to endure (cf. 12:19; 19:5, 9).”  From the ESV Study Bible notes.

Verse 29 –

“A wicked man hardeneth his face,…. Against all corrections and reproofs of parents, masters, ministers, and others; he blushes not at sins committed, and is not ashamed of them, but glories in them: or, he “strengthens with his face” (l); he puts an impudent face upon his words, and confirms them by his impudence; if he tells the most notorious lies, and says things the most shameful and scandalous, his countenance does not alter, by which he would be thought to have spoken what is right and true;

but as for the upright, he directeth his way; or “his ways” (m); according to the various reading; the man that is upright in heart, and walks uprightly, he directs his way according to the word of God; and, if he does amiss, when sensible he is ashamed of it, and amends.”  John Gills Expostion of the Bible.

Verses 30-31 –  “And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant.”   (Jeremiah 51:29).  Note; “…for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed…”  No plan working against God will succeed.

The Believer’s Bible Commentary summarizes verses 30 and 31 this way:

“Verse 30: Nothing avails against God.
Verse 31: Nothing avails without God.”

No one is prepared for a victorious battle whose heart, mind, weapons, and armor are against the LORD.

Between the Rooftop and the Desert…

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”  Proverbs 21:9
“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Proverbs 21:19  (KJB)

Between the Rooftop and the Desert – Proverbs 21:9-19

Verses 9, 19 –  In the days of ancient Israel rooftops were flat, and used quite often for relaxing in the evening, or early morning.  The husband or wife could go to the rooftop, without leaving home, to get away from the other.
The desert or “wilderness” was not home.  This is leaving the house entirely.

Verse 10 –  Between home and the wilderness are many temptations.  The wicked desire evil, and one of those evils is no love for their neighbor.

Verse 11 –  There is also much learning.  The “simple” (Naive, foolish, open minded) learn by seeing the “scorner” (One who mocks God and religion) punished for their evil mouth and behavior.  The wise seek every opportunity to learn of God, holiness, righteousness, salvation- through the writings of others and reading them and applying them to their own lives.

Verse 12 –  “The righteous maketh the house of the wicked to prosper.”  Gersom from John Gill Commentary  e-Sword.  A good example is the house of Potipher with Joseph (Genesis 39:1-7).  God has blessed the United States of America because of the Righteous.  In the end the wicked will be overthrown.  Not by the United States, but by the breath of the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes again.

Taking out the italicized words consider this for verse 12…

“The righteous wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for wickedness.” v.12

Verse 13 –  A stern warning about turning away from the cries of the poor.  To willfully neglect to hear and help the poor when it is in the power of our hand to do it could bring the same judgment on ourselves.  Luke 16:10-31

Verse 14 –  See Proverbs 17:8; 18:16.  “The Bible often reports facts without approving them. Thus it observes that an angry man will quiet down if the offender slips him a gift, and a man who is in a rage is appeased by a bribe tucked in his pocket.”  From Believer’s Bible Commentary

Verse 15 –  People who are just rejoice when Judgment or justice is done.  There is ruin or destruction to those who work iniquity.  It is proper to rejoice in righteous judgment.  It is iniquity to rejoice when evil is done.

Verse 16 – 18 –  The wandering individual, the one who goes astray from the paths of God and understanding find themselves with the dead.  When pleasure is all that one seeks they will not be rich.
For verse 18 consider Haman’s taking the place of Mordecai (Esther 7).

Verse 19 –  Between the Rooftop and the Desert there are many things to understand and learn.  There are sometimes troubles at home, and there are in the desert as well; with or without a spouse.  The thing is for the people of God to be faithful and true to Him who is with us always.

The Grace of Suffering

“Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.  But the end of all things is at hand: you be therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.  As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the Spirit of glory and of God rest upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.  Yet if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.  For the time that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if first at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Therefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.  1 Peter 4:1-19

REFERENCES: 2:20; 3:19; Ezekiel 9:6; 44:6; Acts 10:42; 17:30; Romans 12:13; 14:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 5:11; 24:13, 45; Proverbs 10:12; 1 Corinthians 3:13; James 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; Isaiah 10:12;

For Christ’s Sake, Do Your Brother Well

“Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer, and to beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith, which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of your faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.  For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by you, brother.
Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin you that which is convenient, yet for love’s sake I rather beseech, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.  I beseech you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: which in time past was to you unprofitable, but now profitable to you and to me: whom I have sent again: you therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: whom I would have retained with me, that in your stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: but without your mind would I do nothing; that your benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.  For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that you should receive him for ever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto you, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
If you count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.  If he has wronged you, or owes anything, put that on my account; I Paul have written with mine own hand, I will repay, because I do not say to you, how you owe unto me even your own self besides.  Yea, brother, let me have joy of you in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.  Having confidence in your obedience I wrote unto you, knowing that you will also do more than I say. But immediately prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
There, you salute Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellow laborers.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” Philemon 1:1-25

REFERENCES: Ephesians 1:2; 3:1; 2 Corinthians 7:13; 9:7; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 16:17; Colossians 4:9; Genesis 45:5

Stedfastly Set Your Hearts Unblameable

“Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timothy, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.  For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.
But now when Timothy came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that you have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also you: therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.  For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
Now God Himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all even as we toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”  1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

REFERENCES: 1 Corinthians 7:5; Acts 17:15; 18:1; 26:7; Philippians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 13:9; Zechariah 14:5

For Christ’s Sake

“It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.  For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he sees me or he heareth of me.  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And He said unto me,
‘My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:1-10

REFERENCES: Acts 14:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 10:8; 11:30; Luke 23:43; Deuteronomy 3:23; Romans 5:3

We Shall Judge Angels

“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?  Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world, and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  Know you not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.  I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?   But brother goes to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.  Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather be defrauded?  No, you do wrong, and defraud, and that brethren.”  1 Corinthians 6:1-8 (TKJB)

References:  1 Corinthians 1:2;  Matthew 19:28;  Revelation 2:26;  2 Peter 2:4-10;  Proverbs 20:22;  Luke 6:29;  1 Thessalonians 4:6

The Righteousness of God Revealed; The Just Shall Live By Faith

“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed unto them.  For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”  Romans 1:15-21

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
The God of the Jews only? Not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:20-31  (KJB)

He Read From the Prophet Isaiah

“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, ‘Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.’  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, ‘Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.’  And Philip ran thither to and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, ‘Understandest thou what thou readest?’  And he said, ‘How can I, except some man should guide me?’ And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
The place of the Scripture which he read was this, ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’
And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, ‘I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this of himself, or of some other man?’  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?’  And Philip said, ‘If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.  But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”  Acts 8:26-40  (KJB)

Jesus’s Prayer – Not of the World

“I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:14  (KJB)

The following was first posted on July 26, 2010.  You may follow this link to study chapter 17 of the Gospel of John.

It is important for us to realize that His Word has been given us for a reason.  It has been entrusted to us not for secrecy, secret interpretations, or secret organizations.  It has been given us to take into all the world.  Even though the follower of Jesus is hated by the world, we are called to live in the world, and show forth the glory of Jesus Christ.

We show forth His glory by showing forth the power of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to change our lives.  What has Christ Jesus wrought in you?  If you have been saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, then He has given you a New Life; you have been born again.  You have been born into His kingdom; which is an everlasting kingdom which shall never perish.

The world is that which is perishing.  The ones who are fearful and unbelieving.  The ones who hate God and all that is godly.  Yet, the Word is given to us to share with the world.  We have been called out from the world of the flesh and the devil.  We are called to live in the world, but not to be of it.

“Come out from among them and be ye separate”  (2 Corinthians 6:17) is not a command to have nothing to do with the people of the world, but rather to not have anything to do with their ways of worship; their gods.  We are to show forth only the glory of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  The only way we do that is going about our daily lives in the presence of the world; loving God, one another and those who are dying in this world.

All Things That are Written by the Prophets

“Then He took the twelve, and said unto them, ‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.’
And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”  Luke 18:31-34  (KJB)

One of the great things we can learn in the gospels is that Jesus the Son of God, the Son of Man; who is God the Son; had a great admiration, love, for the prophets, and desired to see that those prophecies concerning Himself were fulfilled.

Even after His resurrection He spoke with two on the road to Emmaus about believing the words of the prophets (Luke 24:25-26).  Consider Isaiah 53 as an example of the prophecy of His death, and our salvatiion.

Jesus speaks of His impending suffering, crucifixion, and death; and the disciples do not know what He is speaking about.  They were still dreaming of living in splendor, authority, and power reigning with Him on earth.

Why should the Christian of 2019 read the writings of the Prophets?  As a matter of fact why should we read the whole Old Testament?  My answer to both of those questions is “Because they are the only Bible Jesus had to read, and know; as well as the apostles.”  Those Scriptures are the ones that testify of Jesus.  That is why.

Temple Thrown Down

“And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, ‘Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings!’And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ And as He sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?'” Mark 13:1-4  (KJB)

From the past…

This was the last time that Jesus would be in the temple.  He had just applauded the widow as she gave all she possessed, and chided the religious leaders because they had only given according to their riches.  What matters to God is the attitude of one’s heart not the amount one gives or their prestige, or position.

There was nothing in all the world like this temple in its grandeur.  It had beautiful marble stones with gold ornamentation which reached a height of 100 feet, there were colonaded walkways, courtyards, and stairways that filled 20 acres of the most prominent landscape in Jerusalem.  From our human perspective it is no wonder the disciples made such a statement.

“These buildings”  were those of the temple and probably surrounding area which were marvelous architectural wonders.  They would not be able to endure the “wrath” that would come showing God’s disapproval of the Hebrew’s rejection of their Messiah.  When the temple would fall their sacrifices would cease, and they [the Hebrews] would be scattered to the “ends of the earth”.

When looking at this time and the situation they were in we must ask ourselves, “What is important in life?”  Is it buildings and lands?  Is it money and finances?  Maybe it is science and technology?  Wilfred Hahn a global portfolio manager has dubbed these as MOFI and SCITE.  There is a third one called GLOBO, which is a growing desire for global unity and tying of all nations to one another in the above things.  To explain these names are an acronyn for MOFI = Money/Finance; SCITE = Science/Technology; GLOBO = Global orgainization and unity.

The Jewish leaders; religious and otherwise; would learn in the years to come that what they held so dear would not stand.  What about us?  Can we learn from their foolishness?  I pray so.

Up To Jerusalem

The way to Jerusalem is always up.  You never hear of going over to Jerusalem, down to Jerusalem; but always up.  For Jesus this trek to the city would be His final one before He is crucified.  Now He; one more time; tell His disciples what is about to happen…

“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, ‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify: and the third day He shall rise again.’” Matthew 20:17-19  (KJB)

He is willingly going to face the accusers, and the Roman governor, and giving His life for the world (John 3:16).  The following is the commentary of John Gill on verse 19 of the above text…

And shall deliver him to the Gentiles,…. To Pilate, an Heathen governor, and to the Roman officers and soldiers under him; see Joh_18:35.

To mock him, as they did, by putting on him a scarlet robe, platting a crown of thorns, and placing it on his head, and a reed in his hand; and then bowed the knee to him, and cried, hail, king of the Jews!

and to scourge him: as he was by Pilate, at least by his orders: Mark adds, “and spit upon him”; as not only did the Jews in the palace of the high priest, but also the Gentiles, the Roman soldiers, after they had mocked him in the manner before described:

and to crucify him: which, as it was a cruel and shameful death, such as slaves and the worst of malefactors were put to, so it was a Roman one; for which reason, the Jews choose to deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. The Persic version here adds, “and put him into the grave”: which though it followed his crucifixion, was not done by the Gentiles, but by Joseph of Arimathea, a Jew, and a disciple of Jesus; and that not in a contemptuous, but honourable manner

and the third day he shall rise again: this he said for the comfort of his disciples; but now, though these things were so clearly and distinctly expressed by Christ, and which show his omniscience, and give proof both of his deity and Messiahship, yet Luke observes of the disciples, “that they understood none of these things, and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken”: the words were plain, the grammatical sense of them was easy, but they could not imagine that they were to be taken literally; which was such a glaring contradiction to their received and rooted principles of the temporal kingdom of the Messiah, and the grandeur of it, that they fancied these expressions carried a mystical, secret meaning in them, which they were not masters of: and certain it is, that what our Lord now said, was so far from destroying, or weakening these prejudices of theirs, that it rather confirmed them in them; particularly, what he said about rising again, which seemed to have put them afresh in mind, and to excite their hopes of this external felicity, as appears from the following case.” John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Jesus went up to Jerusalem to die for you and me, so that we might be redeemed unto the Creator of all that is; and have fellowship with Him.  Will you take up your cross and follow Him?

 

You, Follow Me

“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on His breast at supper, and said, ‘Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?’ Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what shall this man do?’
Jesus saith unto him, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.’
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, ‘He shall not die;’ but, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?'” John 21:20-23  (KJB)

Remember, if you will, that at the trial of Jesus, and Peter standing with the crowd outside denied our Lord three times.  I am positive that Peter grieved over that when he heard that rooster crow, and it hit him like a rock, and he remembered what the Lord said.

Jesus is giving Peter some assurance, and reassurance in much of this chapter.  Giving him renewed faith, and strength.

The Lord has revealed to Peter what his life is going to be like for Him; and so he asked the Lord the question concerning John, “What shall this man do?” He receives the Lord’s answer, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.

Peter was not given words concerning John’s life, his calling, or his last day on earth. Peter was given Peter’s life.

The same is true of all Christians.  We are not to be anxious about another’s life, their calling, neither their last day or days.  Not that we do not care for them; but that we are not using them to excuse our own weaknesses, sins, and faults.

Jesus’s answer to Peter could be said to be “You, follow Me”.  That is what the Lord’s answer to me is; and so for all who call Him Lord and Savior.

Our Hearts Burn Within Us

“And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?’
And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.’ And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread.” Luke 24:31-35  (KJB)

When we are first introduced to these two from Emmaus we are told, “But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him” (v. 16).  On the way the resurrected Lord spoke the Scriptures of Moses and the Prophets, and taught them of the Christ.  It was not until He broke bread with them in their home that their eyes were opened.

Jesus disappears from their sight.  They get up from their table, and return to Jerusalem to find the others, and share with them about their personal encounter with Jesus.

As I read this, this morning, it was fresh and new to me like I was reading it for the first time.  Though nothing new was revealed to me, but it was like the Lord Jesus was very very near to me, and He always is, but like a refresher filling of the Spirit. He is near.  He is always near.

He is risen just as He said.  Remember the Scriptures.  They tell us of Him.  That is when our hearts burn within us.  Our hearts burn, yearning, longing, desiring to see our Lord, and to hear Him speak to us.  Is your heart burning for Him?  The fuel for the fire is the Scriptures.

He Preached With Authority

“And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His word was with power.” Luke 4:31-32 (KJB)

Speaking of Jesus of course; He spoke amazing things.  His doctrine [teaching] was with power and authority which is probably a redundancy, but for strength and clarity it is repeated.

I pray that I will grow so in love with the Lord Jesus and His word and walk [live] in the fullness of His Spirit [the Holy Spirit] that I too will have that authority.  I do not desire it for myself, but for His name’s sake; and that others might come to know Him as their own personal Lord and Savior.  I pray this for every pastor, every man and woman of God, and every youth who has given their lives to Him.

Let us grow in the Spirit and power of Christ our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Just Sitting There

“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear His cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink.
And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, ‘They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture did they cast lots.’ And sitting down they watched Him there; and set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Matthew 27:32-37  (KJB)

After the rigged “evidence” and very falsified testimony at an unjust trial, and conviction the soldiers had flogged Jesus, beaten Him nearly to death, and physically weakened.  On the way to the place of crucifixion, He carrying His cross gave way under the load, and they compelled Simon to carry His cross the rest of the way to Golgotha.

Jesus giving His life for the sins of the world; for my sins and for yours; had willingly gave Himself for us; and He is now in the Scripture hanging, bleeding, and dying.  The soldiers just sit down to watch Him die.  There are two others who are dying too, but the soldiers are watching Jesus die.

The King of the Jews was dying for the Jews, and the Gentiles.  He is not only the King of the Jews; He is the King of kings.

The King did not stay on the cross; He was buried, and He rose again from the grave.  He is alive (Please read Matthew 28).  He lives that we all might live too.

Believe Him.

Not the End; The Fulfillment

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
  Matthew 5:17-20  (KJB)

Remember this you who make an end of the Law and the Prophets.  These are the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount

Words of the Prophets – Jeremiah (5)

Your Own Wickedness

 

“Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he spoiled? The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when He led thee by the way? And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
‘Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee,’ saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” Jeremiah 2:14-19

Description of the Wicked

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil. Psalm 36:1-4 (KJB)

The Thirty six Psalm is titled as “Psalm of David servant of the LORD”.  You may, if you desire, follow the link above for a further study of verse one.

The description of the wicked is this;  keep in mind this is not my description, it is of no human origin.  Though David did pen it down it is divinely inspired;  That description of the wicked…

  1. …The wicked are flattered by themselves, and many times found by others to be hateful.
  2. …The wicked has a mouth with words of iniquity and deceit; their words are often vile, malicious, full of gossip, and lying.
  3. …The wicked has forsaken all wisdom, maybe even some common sense, and forsakes doing good.
  4. …The wicked plans, schemes, and devises wicked mischief while they lay in bed; “How can I better myself against those who appear to be better than me.”
  5. …The wicked set themselves on the opposite side of good; calling what is good “Evil”; and calling what is evil “Good”.
  6. …The wicked cares not for what is good, and does not hate what is evil, but lives in it themselves.

As a Christian I am to “Abhor evil” (Romans 12:9), and “to cleave to that which is good”.  That begins by trusting in the finished word of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, His burial, and bodily resurrection.  GOD hated evil so much that He put His own Son to death on that cross to redeem evil, wicked mankind unto Himself.

Words of the Prophets – Zechariah

Jerusalem Safely Inhabited

“And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance. And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.”  Zechariah 14:8-15 (KJV)

Finding the Knowledge of God

You Shall Find the Knowledge of God – Proverbs 2:1-9

Verses 1 – 5 –  “…If thou wilt receive my words…”  The “ifs” of learning and instruction.  Using the affectionate term “my son” the parent, the teacher continues the instruction.  The “ifs” state a conditional teaching.

“Receive” means to seize, take hold of when they are heard and taught.  It is as though to be taken and applied as it is your very own. “Hide” to hoard them, protect them; meaning do not let anything pervert or change them.  This word is used again in verse 7 as “Layeth up”.

The “commandments” are those things which are being taught; the Law, Ordinances, precepts.

These should be sought as though it was the most excellent treasure; “silver” “hid treasures”.  When these “ifs”; ie. these conditions are met, then you will “find the knowledge of God” (v. 5).

Verse 6 –  “The LORD giveth wisdom”  The source of wisdom and knowledge.  Since it is the LORD who gives wisdom, it must be clear that knowledge and understanding; closely associated with wisdom; then must also be given by the LORD through wisdom.

“…Out of His mouth”  The study note from the MacArthur Study Bible states,

“His mouth. The words of His mouth are contained in Scripture.  It is there that God speaks (cf. Heb. 1:1-2;  2 Pet. 1:20, 21).  Wisdom comes only by revelation.”

Knowledge in our current society is associated with having received an education at a college, university, etc.  The knowledge we read of here is that knowledge which only God Himself gives.

Verse 7 –  “He layeth up sound wisdom”  The Hebrew word for “layeth up” is the same as that for hide as in verse 1.  Sound wisdom is thus stored up by God for the righteous.

It could have much to do with Amos’s words,

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7

and even Jesus’s words to Peter at his confession of Christ (Matthew 16:17).

“He is a buckler” – Buckler is a shield, a form of defense.   The LORD is a defense, our whole defense against the wicked and the peril of the wicked.

Verses 8 – 9 –  “He keepeth the paths..”  The LORD guards and maintains.   From the Pulpit Commentary this note,

“It is God who “keepeth the paths of judgment,” as he alone has the power to do so. He watches over all that walk therein, guides, superintends, and protects them.”  e-Sword edition.

“Preserveth the way of His saints” is as the LORD putting a hedge around to protect the righteous as they walk in Him.

Verse 9 then, tells us that in His keeping and preserving (Hedging us in) we “understand” righteousness, judgment, and equity (which is equality, or fairness).

Our understanding of equality, righteousness, judgment; God’s keeping us, and preserving us must come from the wisdom of God.  When we receive correct instruction we should hide it within our hearts and minds; keeping it for use in life’s situations.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Requirements of the Christian Man

What God Requires Of His Men

Exodus 3:1-10

I. CHRISTIAN MEN ARE MEN OF OBSERVATION CONCERNING THINGS OF GOD (vv. 1-4).

A. God does things sometimes to get a man’s attention.

1. The fire of God is burning long before it is seen by man’s eyes.
2. It is God who opens our eyes that we might see His fire.

B. We should be drawen by the fire of God once it is observed.
C. When we get into the presence and fire of God we begin to reckon with our sin and our lives.

II. CHRISTIAN MEN ARE EXPECTED TO HUMBLE THEMSELVES IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD (vv. 5-6).

A. Humble before God we remove the manmade shoes of self-support.

1. Self reformation will not, nor cannot stand before the presence of holy God.
2. Taking off the shoes of “Self-Support” in God’s presence keeps us sensitive in our walk with God.

a. It also makes us cautous in our walk.
b. Being without shoes we watch where we step.

B. This is a form of removing the “Fig leaves” of self-righteousness.

III. CHRISTIAN MEN ENDEAVOR TO KNOW THE HEART OF GOD (vv. 7-8).

A. The heart of God is to deliver His people from their place of affliction.

1. It grieves the heart of God when His people are afflicted by the world.
2. It grieves His heart even more when we are afflicted spiritually, controlled by sin, and separated from fellowship with Him.

“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” Isaiah 59:1; “Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” Isaiah 9:17, 21; 10:4 (KJV). “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” Romans 5:6 (KJV).

B. Jesus came knowing the heart of God and His purpose for being.

1. ” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19 (KJV).
2. God’s heart is for the delivering of enslaved people.

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:16-18; Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV).

C. God’s heart is set against sin, and so ought the heart of the Christian man reflect the heart of God.

IV. CHRISTIAN MEN ARE CALLED TO A PLACE OF LEADERSHIP (vv. 9-10).

A. Although God is All Powerful [Omnipotent] He uses men to lead people out of slavery and into His blessing.

1. He desires to use those who are willing and He will make us able.
2. He desires to use those who know His heart.

B. What is godly leadership?

1. One who knows God’s call and is committed to be faithful to that call.
2. One who by careful study of God’s Word and diligence knows God’s heart for souls and teaches God’s Word and His way.
3. One who prays and calls his family, and God’s people to repent, and who himself is repentant.
4. One whose heart is to let the Lord be Lord of his life and the church body.

a. If he is a pastor he is not a dictator with his own rules, but trust the Lord’s Word to correct and do its work in individual Christians and in the hearts of the lost.
b. He does not see his position as a place of power, but of servanthood.

5. One who is yielded to God’s tasks at the risk of family, friendships, being misunderstood, and/or life.

a. He is more concerned with God’s commands than with man’s demands.
b. He is obedient to God – repentant when not.

6. One who is burdened for the people.

C. God uses yielded/surrendered men to accomplish great tasks; “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5 (KJV).

1. “God is not looking for extraordinary men to do an ordinary task; He is looking for ordinary men to do an extraordinary task.” UNKNOWN
2. Christian men are sent by God to deliver the people of God who are in bondage and lead them out of Egypt [the world] and slavery to sin and the world.

APPLICATION –

I. GOD CALLS CHRISTIAN MEN TO BE OBSERVANT OF HIS FIERY PRESENCE.
II. GOD CALLS CHRISTIAN MEN TO HUMBLE THEMSELVES BEFORE HIS PRESENCE.
III. GOD CALLS CHRISTIAN MEN TO KNOW THE HEART OF GOD.
IV. GOD CALLS CHRISTIAN MEN TO THE PLACE OF LEADERSHIP.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Right Attitude

Being The Right Attitude

Matthew 5:1-12

We are looking at the beginning verses of what is called The Sermon On The Mount preached by Jesus to His disciples. It does not seem that there was a multitude at this message. It seems clear that it was only His disciples, “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them,” (vv. 1-2).

Each of the “Beatitudes” are a principle for living in the kingdom of our King. They represent an attitude of the heart and the mind. Within the kingdom of Christ our King there would be peace among us with no pride – lording it over another; there would be more sorrow over sin – our own first of all; there would be a greater hunger for God and His righteousness – less worry about gaining the things of earth; there would be more mercy – thus obtaining mercy; there would be more purity – more visions of God; there would be more opportunities for being peaceable – as the children of God; there would be more persecution – we would all be living faithfully as we are in the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s first look at the definition of the word “attitude“. “The position of something in relation to something else” is one definition according to the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY. What is the position your mind, your heart, your life in relation to God? We will consider those things your attitude. If we line ourselves up with God, having the right attitude we are “Blessed”, and that means “Happy”. Christians should be the happiest people in the world. I am not talking about a happiness based on frivolous circumstances, and life situations, but more of a joy which cannot be taken away.

What is the basis for having the Right Attitude?

I. THE FIRST THING IS TO HAVE THE ATTITUDE OF BEING “Poor in spirit” (v. 3).

A. This possesses a disciple of Jesus Christ as King.

1. It is the opposite of being proud, haughty and arrogant; especially when considering the things of God.
2. There is absolutely no room in the kingdom for pride.
3. It is bad enough to be arrogant, prideful and haughty before our fellow man, but to do so before God has eternal consequences

B. To be poor in spirit is to have more concern for the things of God, and the lives of others than we have for our own lives

1. What is the position of our heart toward God and our fellow man?
2. Seeing ourselves as God sees us is the proper attitude, and we will be poor in spirit, and ours will be the ‘kingdom of heaven’.

II. SECONDLY, THERE WILL BE AN ATTITUDE OF “Mourning” – having grief because of sin (v. 4).

A. The attitude of mourning over some thing or things which are not morally or spiritually right.

1. First of all, seeing sin in ourselves should cause us to mourn grievously, and lead us to repentance.
2. Secondly, when we sin in a love one, and we know that it is dragging them further and further away for God; we should be mourning over sin, and for their repentance.
3. Thirdly, when we see what sin is doing to our church by those who are “talebearing”, gossiping, and “sowing seeds of discord”; all should be grieving, mourning the destruction it is doing to the lives of those participating in it and the harm it brings to us all.
4. Fourthly, when we see what sin does to our community, State, Nation and the world we should be mourning sorrowfully and be praying for repentance.

B. There is comfort for those who mourn now.

1. There are many in and of the world who can laugh when a commedian tells an indecent story or joke, but when the story time is over they are sad once again.
2. Those who mourn now will be rejoicing through out all eternity, and that does not mean we cannot be joyous and truly happy while we are here.
3. When we see a sinner repent that will by a happy occasion; those who mourn shall be comforted.

III. IN THE THIRD PLACE, THERE IS THE ATTITUDE OF “Meekness” (v.5).

A. Meekness has been defined as “Strength/Power under control”.

1. Jesus was a great example of this definition of meekness.
2. It is also said of Moses, “Now this man Moses was very meek, above all men which were upon the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3 (KJV).
3. Gentleness is another term for meekness.

B. The meek are those who know and realize who they are in Christ, but do not seek to exploit their position, power or person above others.

1. The meek are quick to defend others, but often will not defend themselves, and all the time stand for what is righteous, holy and just before God.
2. Meekness is one sure sign of being secure with who you are.
3. The inheritance of the meek is the earth;

“For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:9-11 (KJV).

C. Jesus tells us that the “meek shall inherit the earth, and the Psalmist says that of “Those who wait upon the LORD…” as well.

IV. FOURTHLY, WE NEED THE ATTITUDE OF “Hungering and thirsting for righteousness” (v. 6).

A. The kingdom child is hungry for God, His Word, His righteousness, His holiness, and His justice.

1. Righteousness is the way of God, and the child of God desires the way of God.
2. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; their desire is for Jesus Christ and nothing else, because He is the fulfillment of the righteousness of God.

B. Those “hungering and thirsting for righteousness has a very specific hunger and that is for those things which are honoring and pleasing to God and glorify Him

1. To devour the truth – getting it into the system in order to be strengthened, encouraged, and motivated to live right with God.
2. O, that we as the people of God grew in that hunger; never completely filled; but satisfied with Jesus, wanting more of Him, and His righteousness.
3. The thrist never completely quenched; with longing to drink from the well of the Water of Heaven.
4. Drink from the ‘river of water’ that flows from out of the throne of God Himself (Rev. 22:1).

V. THE FIFTH BASIS FOR HAVING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE IS TO BE “Merciful” (v.7).

A. When you are in the right position with mercy it is most likely because you have obtained mercy (See Matthew 6:14-15 and Luke 7:41-42).
B. Living in a competitive world many feel and/or believe it is okay to exact revenge on one who has wronged you.
C. Get-Even-Ism is not the way of mercy.

“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” Luke 7:41-42

1. Mercy is what we all desire, especially when we are in trouble, in need, or just flat out busted.
2. We all need it, but when it comes to others, we are a little slow at granting it, if we do at all.
3. The question, “Who was forgiven the most?” is a pertinent question for us today – How much have you been forgiven? Much or little?

Mercy has been defined or illustrated in this manner – “It is not receiving what we justly deserve – that is JUDGMENT”. The next time you are about to release a verbiage of criticism on someone over something that has offended you; take a look at yourself. Someone has been merciful to you in the past, and probably over this same thing that has set you off. What is the position of your attitude in relation to mercy?

D. When we are merciful we shall obtain mercy.

VI. IN THE SIXTH PLACE IS THE NEED TO BE “Pure in heart” (v. 8).

A. Purity is such a sweet word. The definition of the word pure is:

“Unmixed with any other matter: free from taint’ also, ‘Free from moral fault: innocent”. From the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY.

1. Without a pure heart no one can see the Lord, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness [purity], without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14 KJV).
2. No one can appear before the presence of the Lord without pure heart – “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his sould unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” Psalm 24:3-4 (KJV).

B. There is a pure heart only by looking to Jesus Christ, and looking to Jesus you will see God.

VII. SEVENTH, IS THE HEART OF “Peacemakers” (v. 9).

A. This does not have anything to do with “World peace” initiatives or movements.

THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY on Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 211 states,

“The essentil fact to comprehend is that the peace about which Jesus speaks is more than the absence of conflice and strife; it is the presence of righteousness”.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Rom. 5:1 (KJV).

B. As long as men and women are at war with God, not believing Him or in Him; there will never be peace with God.

1. “Men can stop fighting without righteousness, but they cannot live peaceably without righteousness” IBID.
2. Having peace with God makes one righteous and just by decree from God.
3. There will be peace on earth when Jesus Christ sets up His kingdom on earth.

C. Those who have peace are the only ones who can offer peace to those who do not have it.

1. It is those who are peacemakers who have the peace with God, and the peace of God.
2. It is those who alone who can be called ‘the children of God’.

D. When your position with God is right; you will have peace with God, the peace of God, and you also will be a peacemaker.

VIII. THE EIGHTH AND FINAL BE-ATTITUDE IS THAT OF THE “Persecuted” (vv.10-12).

A. As a follower of Jesus Christ we must consider ourselves dead to the flesh any way.

1. It was Paul who wrote,

“I am crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:20). “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:4).

2. Paul also wrote to Timothy,

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” 2 Timothy 3:12.

B. These two “Blessed(s)” are for only those who are in Christ Jesus and walking in His righteousness.

1. These persecuted do not moan and groan their persecution, they rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ.
2. This was the attitude of the early church; we see them rejoicing in this in Acts 5:41 –

“And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

C. Do we go out seeking persecution? That is a definite NO!!!

1. When we live righteously in Christ it will come and then, we stand and we stand in His name.
2. Persecution is not for the believer to gain God’s grace, but because of grace.

D. Those who are persecuted will inherit the “kingdom of God”.

1. It too, will be a matter of rejoicing.
2. Great will be the reward in Heaven

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12 (KJV).

IX. SUMMARY – WHAT IS THE POSITION OF YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD, HIS SON, AND HIS WORD, AND YOUR POSITION IN THE WORLD?

-Tim A. Blankenship

God of Our Hope

The God of Hope

Romans 15:1-33

The chapter begins with summing up of the previous teaching of considering others in our demeanor, actions, and deportment. We need to act in accordance with what will glorify our Lord, and keep our brother or sister in Christ from falling.

Paul even means that we go much further than tolerating a brother’s weakness, but rather do all possible to strengthen them in faith. Carry their load. Carry them when necessary.

We are to see to it that we with one mind and one mouth glorify God together, “even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Having the heart, mind, and mouth like unto that of Jesus Himself. Being likeminded together, with Him (vv. 1-7).

Paul was obviously a believer in God’s promises. He understood that Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises of God, and their confirmation.

1. The Confirmation of the Promises came by Jesus Christ (v. 8). The Old Testament is full of promises. Promises of the coming One. A Deliverer. The Messiah. A Savior who will save the people from their sins.

In Jesus’s birth He confirmed Scripture. Born a Jew. Born in Bethlehem. Called a Nazarene. He fulfilled the law.

He was a healer; healing the lame, and the blind. Lepers were freed from their sores, the dead were raised to life. He walked on the water, stilled storms, fed multitudes, and cast our demons

Only few followed Him, and still chose to go to the cross and die for our sins as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53).

2. Jesus Confirmed the Promises by Opening the Gate for all people. Paul reminds his readers that God’s plan has always been to include all people no matter what their race or nationality or culture (vv. 9-13).

“Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” Psalms 18:49 (KJV) v. 9.

(v. 10) “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” Deut 32:43 (KJV).

(v. 11) “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.” Psalms 117:1 (KJV).

(v. 12) “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:” and “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:1, 10 (KJV)

All our hope and power is from the Spirit of God; the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

3. Something in which to Boast (vv. 14-21). When is it right to boast? We can boast of the faith, work, patience, boldness, and goodness that others do through Christ Jesus.

We can boast of the goodness of God, and what He has done in us, and through us.

To boast of anything concerning Jesus’s mighty deeds is a good boast.

4. Through Prayer for the Sovereign Leadership of the Lord in our lives and other’s lives we can grow in trusting The God of Hope (vv. 22-33). The following was the desire of Paul’s heart, and his requests from the Roman Christians.

To be delivered from the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem;

That his work and ministry for Jerusalem would be accepted by the believers;

That he would be able to visit them – at Rome – in the will of God and be “refreshed” = renewing joy, peace and rest; with them.

God is the sovereign One. He directs the affairs of all people in all lands. His will will be done despite our arrogant, self-styled, self-willed disobedience.

Treatment of Others

Believer’s Treatment of Others

Romans 12:9-21

Jesus told us, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:35. There is no question about it God/Christ has established one Church – His Body. Those who are in His body love one another. It cannot be otherwise. No believer can love God and hate another. To say one loves God, and to hate another is hypocrisy.

To love God is to hate evil. Paul uses the word “Abhor”. The true believer will hate evil just as our holy and righteous God hates it. We will hate evil because we see evil as the hyenas. They are mortal enemies, and so should the Christian and sin be also.

1. Christian love is to be without hypocrisy. To say you love and do not show love is hypocrisy, and does nothing to aid or help the brethren in need. Christian love does not speak ill of another. Does not speak one way to one, and different way to the one spoken of. Christian love prefers others over self. (vv. 9 – 10).

2. Christian diligence. When a Christian sees the need of a brother/sister they will react to with haste to see that need is filled. They will act to the point of taking care of that need themselves when they are able to do so. Hospitality is caring for the needs of others (vv. 11 – 13).

3. Christian grace. Show grace to those who will persecute you (v. 14).

4. Christian rejoicing. We ought to rejoice when our brother/sister is rejoicing. We may not be able to always understand our brother’s grief, but we can still be sympathetic and weep with them when they are weeping. Never thinking of ourselves more highly, because we are not the one who is suffering; you will (vv. 15 – 16).

5. Christian treatment of the ungodly. There is no doubt Christians will have those who could be our enemies. However, our real enemy is Satan. He uses others to spew forth his venomous hatred of all that is godly.

* Therefore, it is good for us to remember not to do evil deeds against evil. Our first reaction is to strike out, but the nature of Christ in us enables and empowers us to love.
* The believer is to seek peace with all people. We know however, that is not always possible.
* We are to seek forgiveness for any wrong we have done; not hold a grudge, nor seek to avenge wrongs done to us. If we are bitter it is a sign of a lack of peace with the one we are bitter toward.
* If we seek to avenge a wrong done to us; eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life, then we enter the realm that belongs only to God and government. We must realize that God’s justice is far greater than our own. We need to keep in mind that in this passage of Scripture he is writing of the individual not society or government. God has given authority to human government to avenge (Romans 13:4). Vengeance belongs to God alone.

6. Do good things to and for those who mistreat you. If he/she is hungry give them something to eat and drink. If you see a bad neighbor’s cow in the road, open the gate and put it back in his pasture. Bake a cake and take it to them. These kind acts may just gain you a brother or sister and maybe both, in Christ.

7. Contrary to what some and many may think there is much more power in love than in hate. Trying to overcome evil with evil only adds fuel to an already blazing fire. Love has a calming affect. “Overcome evil with good.”

The Steward of God’s Stuff (3)

Stewardship Of Repentance

Malachi 3:1:18

OUTLINE –

I. LOOKING FOR HIS COMING WITH UNREPENTANT SIN (vv. 1-2).
II. THE COMING OF THE LORD IS LIKE A DEVOURING FIRE, PURGING THE DROSS OF SIN FROM THE HEARTS OF HIS PEOPLE (vv. 3-4).
III. A LETHARGIC PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THEY HAVE DEPARTED FROM THE LIVING GOD (vv. 5-12).
IV. IN THE WRONG ATTITUDES OF THEIR HEARTS, THEY ARE ANGRY TOWARD GOD (vv. 13-15).
V. GOD WILL SANCTIFY HIS PEOPLE, AS PRECIOUS JEWELS (vv. 16-18).

Thus far we have saw the STEWARDSHIP which Malachi teaches in chapter 1 we saw THE STEWARDSHIP OF WORSHIP; in chapter 2 THE STEWARDSHIP OF RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP; and now in chapter 3 we will see THE STEWARDSHIP OF REPENTANCE.

Are these things really a matter of personal stewardship? This may be a whole new way of looking at the book of Malachi, and I do believe that God’s people are to be responsible stewards of what God has entrusted to our care. This message is as much, or more to me, as it is to others, and is much needed by all God’s people.

The stewardship of the people of Israel was not in good order. It is sad to say that the stewardship of the church today, is not in good order either. There are people who have their names on church rolls as members of that church, but rarely if ever attend services. If they do it might be on Easter Sunday, for a special program, or for the Christmas program. There are over 16,000,000 (sixteen million) names on the rolls of more than 40,000 Southern Baptist Convention churches, yet, we would be extremely blessed to have half of them in attendance on Sunday. There is certainly a need for repentance for the neglect of the worship of Jesus Christ. There is also a need for repentance for lacking in fellowship with fellow believers. How can you encourage your brother or sister in Christ when you are absent from worship? How can you be encouraged when you are absent?

I. ABIDING IN SIN AND LOOKING FOR THE COMING OF JESUS.

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.  But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:“ Malachi 3:1-2 (KJV).

A. God’s messenger has come to prepare the way for the coming of Christ.

1. That messenger was sent to every believer following the ascension of Christ to the Father.
2. That messenger is God’s Spirit who will convict of sin, righteousness and judgment.

B. There are many Christians who will say they long for the coming of the Lord, yet abide in sin.

1. The coming of Jesus would not be the longing of their hearts – it would be more like that of Lot’s wife whose heart was still in Sodom, and she turned into a pillar of salt, due to her lack of faith and obedience, “Remember Lot’s wife” JESUS (Luke 17:32).
2. The Lord will come to His temple – how will He find His vessel?

C. “He is like a refiners fire, and like fullers soap…” When you are in the faith of the Lord Jesus you will stand, endure, and be cleansed in His sight.

II. THE COMING OF THE LORD IS LIKE A DEVOURING FIRE, PURGING AWAY THE FILTH, AND WASTEFULNESS OF SIN FROM THE HEARTS OF GOD’S PEOPLE.

“And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.“ Malachi 3:3-4 (KJV)

A. There must be a cleansing of Christian leadership, then, it will pass to rest of God’s people.

1. When the leadership is living as the world, it is no wonder the Church is worship less, weak, and weary.
2. When the leadership is clean, then, there will be a worthy offering unto the LORD in righteousness.

B. There will be pleasant offering unto the LORD, just as it was in the beginning.

III. A LETHARGIC PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THEY HAVE DEPARTED FROM THE LIVING GOD.

“And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’

‘Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:5-12 (KJV).

A. It is almost as though these religious leaders copied their behavior from the church of Sardis in Revelation 3:1, Jesus said, “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” (NKJV).
B. The people had gone to trusting the word of sorcerers, adulterers, and had gone to oppressing the poor, the widow, the orphan, and turning strangers away.

1. This was all being done due to a lack of fear of the LORD.
2. They had changed, and forgotten that God is IMMUTABLE, ie., Unchanging.

C. God in His grace still calls for His wayward people to return to Him, and at His call to return, they wonder how, or why they need to return (v. 7).
D. His people have deserted the tithe, thus robbing God, and again wondering, “How have we robbed Thee?”

1. “In tithes and offerings” was God’s answer.

Now some are going to say, “That was law. The law has been done away. We are not under law any longer, but under grace”. My answer to that is this; The law has not been “done away”, rather it has been fulfilled in Christ. If Christ fulfilled the law, then, we are to let it shine forth from our lives. That means that the tithe is only the place that the Christian is to begin. If the ‘tithe’ is of the law, should the ones who are the fulfillment of the law in Jesus Christ give less than the requirement of that law. The Christian should begin with the tithe which is ten percent (10%) of one’s income.

If we look into the lives of the patriarchs of the Old Testament, like Abraham, w see that he paid tithes unto Melchizedek, and Jacob vowed to give God a tithe of all his possessions. These were before the law.

2. God’s people have been cursed by over indebtedness, and that due, at least in part, to lack of faith in God, and putting trust in perishable, material goods, and gain.
3. God says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse…” and that for God’s people today, is His local church.

a. The tithe does not go for missions offering, building fund, a television ministry, or the Red Cross, or any other charitable organization – it belongs to God and goes into the local congregations general fund, and to be distributed as God directs that congregation.
b. When someone “Gives” with stipulations, [as long as you have it where you can control it] it has not been given to God.

4. God will bless those who give to God as He directs, and as He says, “…That there shall not be room enough to receive it”.

E. When God’s people begin recognizing God’s ownership of all things, then, God will bless us in the eyes of others (vv. 11-12).

IV. WITH THE WRONG ATTITUDES IN THEIR HEARTS, THEY ARE ANGRY TOWARD GOD.

“Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?  Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?  And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.“ Malachi 3:13-15 (KJV)

A. The people of God have the attitude that it does no good to serve the Lord – “What profit is it…” accusing God of being unjust.
B. By declaring God unjust, they have the wrong attitude about holiness, righteousness, justice, peace, joy, and God.

1. How can the people of God get to the place where they question His faithfulness, His sustenance, His providence, His power, His presence, or His knowledge?
2. We can get in that way by becoming bored in our “Worship”, faithless in our work of ministry – losing our love for Jesus – and lacking repentance for our sins.

V. GOD WILL SANCTIFY – SET APART – HIS PEOPLE AS PRECIOUS JEWELLS.

“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.  And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.“ Malachi 3:16-18 (KJV).

A. A book of remembrance is written for those that feared the LORD, and thought on His name.
B. God says, “They shall be Mine”.
C. There is coming a day when God will make Israel His precious jewels; His people are a treasured possession, and He will have all those who are His as such.
D. There is coming a day when He will spare His people and give discernment of the righteous and the wicked, and of those who serve the LORD, and those who do not.
E. You are called to be separate, apart from the world of sin and wickedness; you have the power of the Spirit of Christ to discern good from evil, godliness from wickedness.
F. God has set you apart as a precious Jewel

SUMMARY –

I. THE STEWARDSHIP OF REPENTANCE IS TO AWAKE FROM SINS WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN REPENTED OF, AND REPENT.
II. THE STEWARDSHIP OF REPENTANCE IS TO BE PREPARED FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD, AND TO KNOW HE IS COMING LIKE A THEIF.
III. REMEMBER TO WORSHIP THE LORD IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH, AND TRUST THE LORD, LEAN ON HIM, AND LETHARGY WILL FLEE.
IV. TRUST YOUR FAITH; NOT YOUR FEELINGS, AND WRONG ATTITUDES, AND YOU WILL HAVE NO ANGER TOWARD GOD.
V. LET GOD SANCTIFY HIMSELF IN YOUR LIFE, AND BE HIS PRECIOUS JEWEL.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Examples of Christian Living (1)

EXAMPLES OF CHRISTIAN LIVING (Part 1)

Colossians 4:7-10

Proposed OUTLINE –

I. TYCHICUS WAS A MAN WITH THE HEART OF A SERVANT (vv. 7-8).

II. ONESIMUS, WAS A MAN WITH A PAST THAT WAS SINFUL (v. 9).

III. ARISTARCHUS, WAS MAN WITH A SYMPATHETIC HEART (v. 10a).

IV. MARK WAS A MAN WITH A SURPRISING FUTURE (v. 10b).

I borrowed the idea for the main points of this outline from  THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY, Colossians & Philemon, pp. 192-199.

Paul has given much instruction on the dangers, and destruction of those who are Gnostics, and their teachings. Remember, they deny, the deity of Jesus Christ; because to their way of thinking Deity, and flesh cannot reside in the same body; as a matter of fact Deity cannot have a body of flesh. They supposedly believed that Jesus existed, but only as a spirit being; His “death” was only faked; thus there was only a ‘spiritual resurrection’. Do you know how silly that sounds?

Paul has encouraged us to pray for one another, and the Church; and shared with us how he was praying for us. He has lifted up the name of Jesus showing that He is Preeminent in all things, that He was the Creator of the Universe, and not only Creator, but He sustained it all.

Paul has warned us about the “Philosophy of men… And going after the ways of the world, and not after Christ”. He shared with us the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, and warned us of the death knell of legalism, and angel worship.

The apostle also encouraged us, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above…” Putting off the things of the flesh. Setting our affections on things of God – things above. Putting to death all sexual sins, and covetousness. Learning to deal with anger, wrath, malice, etc… To “Put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness.. Meekness, longsuffering, and forbearing one another, forgiving one another. Putting on God-like love. Having godly family relationships, work relationships.

Last time we looked at having a Christian Walk with the Lord; OUR DEPORTMENT.

In these final two messages we will be looking at examples of Christian deportment. There are seven that are good, and one that does not turn out so well. These are what needs to be exhibited in our church, and in life. We are each gifted by the Holy Spirit differently, so let’s be careful about using our gift effectively, and efficiently.

THERE ARE PEOPLE IN OUR CHURCH WHO HAVE THE HEART OF A SERVANT (vv. 7-8).

“ For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another…” Romans 12:3-10 (KJV).

The word ministry in the above Scripture is speaking of “Serving”, being a servant to others. It is the type of work that is needed in the church, and everyone should be serving; first the Lord, of course, then others. There are some who are just clearly gifted with SERVING others. They are usually the first to see a need, and address it, by doing something themselves, or if it is too big a project they call on others to help out.

The one’s with the gift of ministry/serving are also the type of people who do not desire recognition. They will serve even when no one notices. They prefer anonymity in the matter of ministry, without a lot of hooplah. In the our text for the day we see Tychicus, and he was most likely this way, but Paul goes ahead and makes sure the church at Colossae knows who he is anyway.

The gift of service offered was 1) Letting the people know of Paul’s state; 2) To find out the state of the church of Colossae, and return to Paul with that info; and 3) To be an encouragement to them:

1.  A servant will be one who is concerned enough to let others know the needs of those who are preaching elsewhere;
2.  A servant will also be one who informs those who are preaching, of the needs and growth, or lack thereof, of the congregation they are serving;
3.  A servant will be an encouraging part of the congregation.

We all need to have the attitude of the Servant. Not serving to be noticed, but serving because of calling, and desire to glorify the Lord.

EVERYONE IN THE CONGREGATION NEEDS TO REALIZE THAT WE ARE ALL PEOPLE WITH A SINFUL PAST (v.9).

Onesimus was the run away slave of Philemon. It is quite possible that, not only had he ran away, but he had stolen from Philemon. Paul says to Philemon, “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that to mine account” Philemon 1:18 (KJV). It is sure that he had a sinful past.

A lot of us might ask, “Well what is he doing going back?” He was delivering this letter with Tychicus, to Colossae. He was most likely taking another letter to his master Philemon, from the hand of Paul.

In Onesimus we see a great Christian principle. It was one which Paul taught and Onesimus was going to practice, as a matter of fact he was practicing. That that he was practicing was keeping the matter of the law of slavery. Deuteronomy says, “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee” (23:15 KJV). The one to whom a slave had fled was to care for this bond-servant, shelter, food, etc., but for them to go back was entirely up to the slave. In the case of Onesimus it was the good and godly thing to do, especially since he had become a Christian, and Philemon was a brother in Christ.

Paul describes Onesimus as, ‘…a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you…’ The testimony of Onesimus was what every Christian testimony is. One of deliverance to new life. Change had taken place in him, and it does in all who come to Christ.

The ministry of service of both Tychicus and Onesimus was to inform the people at the Colossian church of the work, ministry and needs of Paul. Onesimus was almost undoubtedly carrying another letter addressed to Philemon, and to whom he would deliver this letter face to face with the man he had wronged. Philemon was a wealthy leader of the Colossian Church which met in his house.

I have no problem believing that Philemon completely forgave Onesimus and set him free. After reading Paul’s letter himself, and then, reading it to the congregation meeting ‘in his house’ how could he refuse.

THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH WHO HAVE A SYMPATHETIC HEART (v. 10a).

Aristarchus is mentioned in Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2. Aristarchus is a voluntary captive with Paul. He is most likely not an actual prisoner, but has chosen to stay with Paul and minister to him. Part of his ministry would have been as an encourager. There would have been days when Paul would have been about as low as a Christian man can get, and would need someone to lift him up. Aristarchus was that man.

Understanding the situation requires sympathy. What is sympathy? According to the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY sympathy is – “a relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the others”. Suffering with the one who is suffering. It would also involve being blessed with the one who is blessed. Paul has said, “Weep with those who weep…” Romans 12:15. In that same verse he said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice”. There are those who can and do weep with you when you hurt. They are there for you when you need an encouraging word.

A word of caution. Not everyone has this kind of sympathy that puts them right in the place of suffering or rejoicing. We should all have some elements of sympathy, but not all to the extent that Aristarchus had. It is always a good thing to weep with the weeping, and unless you are jealous of someone else’s success rejoice with them in their rejoicing.

THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH WHO HAVE A SURPRISING FUTURE (v. 10b).

Mark had been a failure on Paul’s first missionary journey. In Acts 13:5 we find “John” who is John Mark ministering with Paul and Barnabus. In the thirteenth verse we have John Mark departing and going back to Jerusalem. There is absolutely no explanation, but due to the conflict that arises between Paul and Barnabus over John Mark going with them on the second missionary journey, we assume that Mark could not take the heat, so he got out while he could.

Paul was probably furious about Mark’s departure, as well as feeling like Mark deserted him. Mark was still, most likely, an immature Christian, and was not use to see persecution because of the faith. Mark had seen a challenge from Satan himself through the sorcerer Elymas, and he had seen the persecution of Paul and Barnabus, and it was all he could take. There was much contention between the two; so much that they went separate ways, and that was something God used to further the kingdom (Acts 15:36-41). One thing we can learn from this is that at all times we must use discernment. That is what Paul was doing, and at this time did not see any fruit in the life of Mark as the defeated, discouraged young man he was when he ran back to Jerusalem. When Paul saw the growth in Mark that was needed he commends him to others.

Notice in this statement by Paul that he says of Mark, “Receive him”. He mentions Mark again in the letter to Philemon, verse 24, “Salute… Mark… my fellow laborers”. Mark had grown and had become a strong believer in the faith. He mentions Mark again in 2 Timothy 4:11, as being a “profitable [useful] to me for the ministry”.

Mark went on and wrote the second Gospel. That is right the Gospel according to Mark. According to some historians and theologians Mark is the oldest of the four Gospels.

One thing by looking at the man Mark is that just because you have failed does not mean that God is finished with you. When your faith is strengthened and renewed God will use you for His glory again. When you fear you have failed just look to the One who has saved you and He will pick you up.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Provoked Jealousy

Provoked To Jealousy

Romans 11:7-14

Many Israeli people who live in the land, most of them calling themselves Jewish, have no convictions concerning God, or promises of the land. More of those who profess to be orthodox Jews are growing toward that.

National Israel is in a state of unbelief. They adhere to the old forms of ritualism and laws, but are unable to practice them, and they do not know God, The ones who do know God have been chosen by Him, and through their faith in Jesus Christ; the true Messiah of Israel. The old forms were relying upon their rituals, Sabbaths, and holy days to achieve righteousness.

THEY HAD NOT OBTAINED THAT FOR WHICH THEY HAD SOUGHT (vv. 7-8)

“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for:”

They, the orthodox Jew, was seeking the righteousness of God by their rituals. When their means of salvation presented Himself to them they crucified Him.

2. “…But the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” The one’s who were chosen and elected by God to faith in Jesus Christ were the one’s who truly obtained the righteousness of God. They met Jesus, believed Him, and followed Him; and through them established what we know as the Church.

3. “(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.” Romans 11:8 (KJV). The one’s who continued to reject did so because their eyes were blinded, but as we shall see later in this study of chapter 11 it was for the benefit of Gentiles blessing.

DAVID EVEN HAS SOMETHING TO SAY CONCERNING UNBELIEVING ISRAEL (v. 9- 10; Psalm 69:21-23).

“And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:  Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.” Romans 11:9-10 (KJV).

1. The very things in which these trusted would become a snare unto them. The table usually thought to be a place of safety, because of their rejection of Messiah would become a snare, a trap, and a stumbling block. The very things they believed in were the source of their blinding.

2. In the source of Paul’s quotation even David says this of those who would give our Savior gall to drink.

3. Can we as Christians become so knowledgeable or stringent on ordinances or law that we miss our Lord and Savior?

IF THROUGH THE FALL OF THE JEW WE HAVE BEEN SAVED, HOW MUCH MORE RICHNESS SHALL THERE BE WHEN THEY REACH FULFILLMENT IN CHRIST (vv. 11-12)?

“ I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?” Romans 11:11-12 (KJV)

1. It seems implied that the question is “Have they fallen to never rise again?” And, Paul’s answer to that is “God forbid!” or “NO!”. Salvation came to the Gentiles through their fall, and to make them jealous. We have received what they have long sought for, the righteousness of God.

2. The kingdom of Christ will be full with the household of Israel coming into the kingdom fold. This will be a blessing to the whole Church.

PAUL’S CONTINUED DESIRE TO SEE HIS BRETHREN IN THE FLESH COME TO CHRIST (vv. 13-14)

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” Romans 11:13-14 (KJV)

1. Though Paul, as a Jew, is an apostle to the Gentiles; he has not given up on the Hebrew people. When we have been called to faith in Jesus there are people that we will no longer have close associations with. That should not mean that we forget them, and never share the faith of Jesus Christ with them.

2. To have desire that others would be saved, and do what we can to see them saved, is more than admirable it is our commission.

-Tim A. Blankenship

God’s Will of Mercy

God’s Will Of Mercy

Romans 9:14-24

Is God unrighteous because He chooses some and not others? NO! NO! NO! NEVER! He is God. He is the Creator of all things. He is not limited in any way. If He cannot choose whom He will, then, He is not sovereign and is not God.

God told Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (v. 15; Exodus 33:19). Pharoah was even chosen by God to be an instrument of God’s glory by his hardened heart (v. 17; Exodus 9:16).

Anyone rejecting God’s way will be an instrument of His glory and a vessel of His wrath. Pharoah had rejected the word of God through His servant Moses, therefore He was used in His rebellion to fulfill God’s will and glory.

God is the potter, we are the clay. If God chooses to save some, then, we ought to rejoice rather than question His character. Honest questions due to lack of understanding and knowledge are acceptable, but bringing charges by frivolous questioning; against our Maker; of unrighteous conduct is blasphemous.

God is patient and waits for “Vessels of wrath” to repent. He does this to show the “Riches of His glory”. From every tribe, tongue, and Nation He does this.

v. 14 — There is no unrighteousness in God because He chooses one rather than another. His grace and His mercy is far beyond our understanding. The only thing we should say is, “Thank You Father”;

v. 15 — Paul here quotes Moses from Exodus 33:19 establishing the Old Testament link of God’s mercy and compassion on whom He chooses;

v. 16 — Paul is reasserting the fact of God’s grace fully given in salvation. No one wills on their own to be saved. No one can pick the day they choose for salvation; that is of God alone – If you aren’t saved the day He calls, then, you could be condemned forever;

v. 17 — God chose Pharoah for His own glory to be a vessel of wrath; God had given Pharoah ample opportunity to do the right thing and let the people go, but he would not;

v. 18 — Mercy had been extended to Pharoah in God’s offer, through the word spoken by Moses, “Let My people go, that they may serve me”. God did not have to go to Pharoah in this manner, but he did in order to show mercy; after Pharoah hardened his heart to God and His Word, God hardens his heart;

v. 19 — If God does this, why are we charged with sin? If this be so does that, then, mean that God is the author of sin? NO!!! It means that sin has no authority over God; it can also mean that our own sin will be our judge (SEE Jeremiah 2:19); We are all guilty of sin. We all stand accountable to God;

vv. 20-21 — Making charges of such foolishness against God is unrighteous in itself; If you built a house and that house could question you and ask you, “Why did you make me a quarter inch off square?” It would not have a right to do so. Maybe a better question would be, “Why did you spend so much time in building me, and then, decided to live elsewhere?” God is as our potter, and we are the clay; He has power to appoint us as He wills and chooses. One can be chosen for honor, and another to dishonor;

vv. 22-24 — Within Paul’s question is much to think on. It is a lengthy question. The answer is within the question, and the previous remarks. By His mercy, He has extended the opportunity to others to come to faith in Jesus Christ. God has extended long periods of patience in mercy toward the evil ones, and given them ample opportunity to repent and believe, but they have not.

Mercy has been extended to all the world. Many seem to believe that God is not merciful, but if you could see through the eyes of mercy you could see that mercy is everywhere. When you have experienced mercy, there is mercy for others from you. God has called and chosen not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles.

God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and upon whom He wills He will have compassion. Mercy = God’s not giving to us what we truly deserve; and that is His wrath.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Set Mind

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THE SET MIND

Colossians 3:1-4

OUTLINE –

I. RAISED TO LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST (v. 1a).

II. GIVE YOUR ALL TO SEEKING THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE ABOVE (v. 1b).

III. THE POSITION OF JESUS CHRIST (v. 1c).

IV. A SET AND REASONING MIND WILL BE ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO IT (v. 2).

V. BEING DEAD TO SELF, HIDDEN WITH JESUS CHRIST IN GOD (v. 3).

VI. THE APPEARING OF JESUS CHRIST AND BEING WITH HIM (v. 4).

We have looked at the first two chapters and the apostle Paul dealt with the problems of the Gnostics who were involved and committed to teaching error. Denying the Deity of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ was/is God incarnate [in flesh]; teaching and believing that they were more knowledgeable than even the apostles who had spent time with Jesus, witnessed His resurrection, etc..

Paul has already instilled in the readers of this short and marvelous letter that Jesus is the supreme one; He is our sustenance; He is our sufficiency. There is no mystical message that we need to hear. The message of the Word spoken to us by the apostles and the prophets is the message for God’s people. There is no ritual or religious practice we need do to be right with God. It is solely by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, His burial and His resurrection.

I. RAISED TO LIFE IN/WITH JESUS CHRIST (v. 1a).

A. Since we have died with Him we have also been resurrected with Him, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5).

1. We were dead in trespasses and sin, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” (Eph. 2:1).
2. Before Jesus came in there was no way for us to acknowledge God, nor to be near Him.

B. There is no question as to the salvation of those to whom Paul is writing; it is clearly addressed to believers.

II. GIVING OUR ALL TO SEEK THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE ABOVE (v. 1b).

A. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).

1. Why is it that some sports fans do not mind paying out a couple of hundred dollars for a three hour football game, but will complain when it comes time to give a little to support the cause of Christ?
2. Why is it that vacationers will spend a few hundred dollars, even thousands of dollars, to go away for fun and relaxation, but will not spend a little to take a trip and spend time and money for the cause of Jesus Christ?

B. The answer to these questions is, “Their heart is in the sports, the vacations, etc.”, and not in the things which are above. “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34).
C. Think of the time spent in the ball games, the vacations; the dollars spent.

1. In 1991 there was 2 billion dollars spent on golf, and that same amount was spent on missions within all denominations.
2. Golf has increased in popularity since then I would guess that that dollar amount has quadrupled for golf; but has either decreased or increased very little for missions since that time.

III. NOTICE THE POSITION OF JESUS CHRIST (v. 1c).

A. He has been exalted to the right hand of the Father.

1. Where does Paul say that the believer is in relation to Christ?

a. With Christ.
b. Seated with Christ, “…And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:6).

2. Stephen the deacon/evangelist saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55ff).

B. He has been given all things of the Father.

1. All power.
2. All glory.
3. All things.
4. Rule with a rod of iron.

C. Jesus Christ our sufficiency for all things; why should we be seeking anywhere else than those things which are above?

IV. THE SET AND REASONING MIND WILL BE SET ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO IT (v. 2).

A. We are commanded in verse 1 to ‘seek those things which are above’, and then, told here to “Set your affection on things above…”.

1. This answers the Gnostics approach to the physical, antinomian practice of loose living.
2. When the heart and mind are set on the eternal things, then the earthly things for living and life will be right as well.

B. Paul is not commanding something that is not possible.

1. It is possible by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within all who are born again.
2. Any one who does not have the Holy Spirit does not belong to God – that is; is not born again – “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any one have not the Spirit of Christ, they are none of His” (Rom 8:9).

C. The things of earth are only temporary; the things above are eternal – So which is most valuable?

V. BEING DEAD TO SELF, HIDDEN WITH JESUS CHRIST IN GOD (v.3).

A. Some people have or get the mistaken idea that this life, salvation, eternity, glory, met needs, problems, sorrows, sickness, disease, and such is all about us.

1. It is not: it is about God, His power, His glory, His grace, His will.
2. Originally made to glorify God Adam fell short of God’s glory – He failed to glorify God, and passed that on to us.

B. Jesus died to restore that glory that was taken away because of disobedience and sin.
C. When we die to self we are “Hid with Christ in God”.

1. Since all sin has been judged by Jesus’s death on the cross, there is no sin that will condemn us.
2. Since Jesus died for our sins, we die with Him.
3. Since Jesus rose from the dead, we rise with Him.
4. Since we are hid with Him we are one with Him (1 Cor. 6:17), we are partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), we have understanding (1 Cor. 2:14-16), and we are secure (1 Peter 1:4).

D. The greatest thing about what Jesus did is that we now walk in the glory of the Lord God who created us all.
E. There is certainly no need for the mystic teachings, the denials of the truths of Jesus and His identity as God in flesh for the true believer.

VI. THE APPEARING OF JESUS CHRIST AND WE ARE WITH HIM (v. 4).

A. He is our life.

1. Jesus gives all life
2. Jesus gives eternal life.

B. Who or what is the center of your universe – your life? What does your world revolve around?

1. If it is not Jesus, and those things which are above, then you are lost, and headed the wrong direction.

C. Jesus is coming again; will you be with Him at His appearing, or will you be against Him?

SUMMARY –

I. RISEN WITH CHRIST GLORIFY HIM.

II. GLORIFY HIM BY CLINGING TO THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE ABOVE.

III. REMEMBER YOUR POSITION IN RELATION TO CHRIST – WITH HIM.

IV. WHO, WHAT AND WHERE IS YOUR AFFECTIONS – YOUR HEART – IN RELATION TO JESUS CHRIST?

V. LIVING FOR SELF EQUALS DEATH – LIVING FOR CHRIST YOU ARE HIDDEN WITH HIM IN GOD.

VI. JESUS IS COMING AGAIN; WILL YOU BE WITH HIM, OR WILL YOU BE AGAINST HIM?

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Reckoning

Here is the final study for Romans 4.  The last time I only published for verses 1-4.  It is included in this study as well. Be blessed.

The Reckoning

Romans 4:1 – 25

OUTLINE –

I. AN EXAMPLE OF A UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).
II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CREDITED ACCOUNT (vv. 5-8).
III. THE CREDITED ACCOUNT IS NOT DUE TO WHAT WE HAVE INVESTED OR PUT TO THE ACCOUNT (vv. 9-12).
IV. THIS RECKONING OF JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD FOR ALL THROUGH FAITH ALONE (vv. 13-17).
V. IT IS THE RECKONING OF GOD HIMSELF; NO HUMAN WORKS ARE CALLED FOR (vv. 18-25).

It was, and probably still is, a popular belief among Jews of Paul’s day and Jews and non-Jews of our day to believe that Abraham was declared righteous by God due to his obedience. Paul puts the record straight.

How were people of the Old Testament saved? Was it by complete obedience to God’s law? Was it by the sacrifice of bulls, goats, lambs, etc.? What does the Scriptures say?

“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (3:20).

“Abraham believed God…” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6-9).

No one has ever been saved by keeping the law, no one will ever be saved by keeping the law. To see that it is by faith in God alone that saves God gives us ample Scriptures to prove it. For example Psalm 32:1-2; and Hebrews 11.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, David, Solomon, etc. are all evidences of justification by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. They believing what would be; we believing what has been and shall be.

There are three words in this study which stand out as a theme. The first word is ‘Reckoned’ found in verses 4, 9, and 10. The second word is ‘Impute’, is used six times, in verses 6, 8, 11, 22, 23, and 24. The third word is ‘counted’, it is used only twice. They all come from the same Greek word logizomai – log-id’-zom-ahee – of these words are terms for accounting. God’s declaring us righteous, and justified.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).

Salvation by grace through faith is unique – one of a kind. There is nothing like it in religion. Grace is not possible by work. If it is not by faith it is not grace.

Since many of the Jews believed that Abraham was justified by works Paul realized that this fallacy needed correction. If Abraham was justified (declared righteous by God) by his works he would then have a reason to boast. His boasting, of course, would have to be before men. He would not glory before God. God’s glory is a glory of its own. Man’s glory cannot match the glory of God.

God delights in those who believe in Him. Those who realize they are weak and helpless to save themselves. Those who have no one else in which to turn, but Him. Those whose hearts are broken and shattered because they realize there is no other hope by Him. Those who have reached the bottom of the bottom, the lowest low. These realize then, God is my hope, my strength, song, salvation, my very source of peace, life and joy.

“A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

When God called Abraham to leave his native land he obeyed, and left. Now understand, Abraham was at that time what the Jews would call a Gentile – there were no Jews. In his culture they worshipped idols, and were despicable in their behavior. Somehow in the midst of all this darkness God shined brightly His light into the life of Abraham, he saw, he heard, and he left this land of despicable sin and shame – the Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31). He even came out with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and his wife Sarah as well as others who are unnamed.

If you heard God speak for the first time would you get up and leave your home, friends, ownership of your land, business, etc. to obey God? Many will not do that whose lives they say belong to Him. Abraham did. How did he do it? He believed God, then he put one foot in front of the other; over and over again. Faith is the end of any attempt to gain God’s favor on any personal merit. If you could gain God’s favor by personal merit it would be by works not grace, therefore, if the works ceased, so too would the favor of God.

When a man or woman takes on a job (work) he/she expects to be paid. The employer is indebted to the employee until the employee receives his/her wages. In like fashion if we worked for our salvation God would be indebted to us until the debt was paid. God is indebted to no one. He did not, nor does not even owe us the possibility of salvation. In His grace He paid our sin debt, and then, when we believe He declares us righteous. What wonderful grace. “Wonderful grace of Jesus; greater than all my sin, how can my tongue describe it; where shall my praise begin.”

THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CREDITED ACCOUNT (vv. 5-8).

You are deeply in debt. There is no way out. The banks and loan companies will neither one loan you money. The creditors are calling, writing wanting the money that is due them. You do not have it. You are barely putting food on the table, your house needs repairs, but where are you going to get the money necessary to make them? The only way out is bankruptcy. You do not like it, but you finally admit to yourself, “I can’t do anything else, I am bankrupt.” In despair you tell a friend that you are bankrupt. The friend asks you, “How much do you need to get back on your feet?” You have not got a clue as to what is going on in this friends mind. A few weeks later you get your bank statement, but instead of being overdrawn you have a balance sufficient enough to pay all your debts.

The amazing part about it is you learn your friend sold some properties – prize properties – and deposited the money into your account. What a friend. Your friend gave his very best to help you out of your bondage of debt. He credited your account with his assets.

What happened above is a description of imputing or imputation. The friend above took the responsibility of paying the debt for his bankrupt friend. He took the burden of the bankruptcy himself and, and imputed, reckoned, accounted his riches to his friend.

Guess what, or maybe you do not have to guess. You are the bankrupt friend, and Jesus is the friend who gave up the riches of Heaven to deliver you from your bankruptcy of sin.

The word ‘counted’ or ‘accounted’ used in verse five (5) is the same word as ‘imputeth’ of verse six (6), and ‘impute’ in verse seven (7). It is also the same as ‘reckoned’ in verse ten (10).

David, the ‘Man after God’s own heart’ is also given as an example of a man of faith. Paul quotes from Psalm32:1-2 as an example of David’s faith (vv. 7-8). Iniquities forgiven, sins covered. The man who is forgiven and sins covered is the one the Lord declares righteous. He deserves imputed imputed sin, but rather receives imputed righteousness by the sacrifice of Jesus who paid the sin debt and imputed to the bankrupted account righteousness. The individual who is declared righteous by God is truly a blessed and happy person.

THE CREDITED ACCOUNT IS NOT DUE TO AN ORDINANCE PERFORMED (vv. 9-12).

Abraham was and is the ‘father’ of the nation of Israel, the people called Hebrews or Jews. In much of the life of the nation; especially in Jesus’s time; they prided themselves of their identity with Abraham by circumcision. As long as they had kept the ordinance they were fine with God. Afterall, God had promised Abraham many things and He was obligated to fulfill them.. Only to a nation of those who believed in Him. Only to a nation who had the faith of Abraham. A faith of fear, obedience, love and admiration of God. The afore mentioned ‘fear’ is the fear of God’s wrath on sin, which leads to a desire to be delivered from sin and a personal hatred for all sin.

In looking at the history of Abraham we find that he was declared righteous by God, at least fourteen years before he was circumcised. So we see Abraham was declared righteous by faith in God, not by the keeping of ordinance or law (Gen. 15:6, “And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he [God] counted it to him for righteousness”). When God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees he believed God and departed (Gen. 11:31). When God told him he would have a son of promise he believed God (Gen. 15:1-5; 17:19). When God called him to sacrifice Isaac; the promised son; he believed God (Gen. 22:1-14). He did it because he believed that since God had made the promise – “In Isaac will thy seed be called” (Gen. 21:12); that God could raise him from the dead (Heb. 11:18-19).

By Abraham’s faith he became the ‘father’ of the circumcised who are in the faith and the uncircumcised in the faith. Faith recognizes our need of grace – God’s sufficient grace – and of God’s desire to give grace.

To Abraham circumcision was only a sign of righteousness given to him by God. As circumcision is the cutting away of flesh, so too is faith in Jesus Christ. Only by faith in Christ Jesus is the flesh of the heart cut away. The power of sin is cut away. Without the finished work of Jesus on the cross, by His death, burial, and resurrection, the cutting away of the flesh of the heart is impossible. Ordinances can only be signs or tokens of the actual event. Ordinance without faith is vain.

THE JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD FOR ALL THROUGH FAITH ALONE (vv. 13-17).

A promise is nothing without faith. Faith in the Promissor is necessary for the promise to have effect.

What good is a promise; particularly an unconditional promise; if you must earn its fulfillment? The promise to Abraham and his descendants was not going to be granted to them by keeping the law, nor was it based on the law. The promise is awarded by faith in God.

The ‘righteousness of faith’ (v. 13) is the only righteousness that is declared by God and upon all who will receive it.

The only promise of the law is wrath. The law declares all to be unrighteous, unworthy of God’s goodness, kindness, mercy, and grace. So the law could not bring in the promise of ‘Heir of the world’; not even to mention the salvation of wicked men.

Grace works only by faith. Remember faith is our quitting the attempt to please God on our own merit, and pleasing Him only through the work of Jesus Christ. Grace would not be grace, if we could earn it. It would be a debt owed us by God. He owes us nothing. Faith gives to God everything He deserves from His highest of all creation. He does not need it, but He deserves it.

Seeing the unseen, knowing the unknowable, believing what seems to be unbelievable – that is the faith of Abraham. When Sarah was 89 and Abraham was 99; God promised them anew, that He would give them a son. They believed. In other words, God brought life from death. O, will you believe God? He does what He says He will do. Justification is good for all through faith alone. No amount of works, nor law kept, no ordinance performed can justify you in God’s sight. Only by His Word are you justified, and that by faith – faith He alone gives. His faith’s object is only Jesus.

IT IS THE POWER OF GOD, NOT HUMAN EFFORT (vv. 18-25).

Did Abraham believe in resurrection power? Did he believe in the power of the resurrection? YES! and YES! again. To he and Sarah the chance of them having a child of promise looked hopeless. Sure Abraham and Sarah made a mistake, slipped into doubt, or really thought they were helping God out, for awhile; but it did not endure. Their faith in God did endure.

“Unbelief” verse 20 is a complete refusal of faith – refusal to believe. It was because of ‘unbelief’ that Israel, led by Moses, did not enter the Promised Land at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 13:26 – 14:4; Heb. 3:16 – 4:13). Despite the waiting Abraham believed. At times it probably seemed that God was pushing faith to its limits, but when Abraham realized his physical body and Sarah’s was dead he knew all he had was God’s promise. That is faith.

When you have reached a point in your life where your realize all you have is faith that God will keep His promise; that is when God will work. He did in Abraham and Sarah, and a 100 years old man and a 90 years old woman had a baby boy. That was a miracle birth. There are not very many miracle births. There are only three in the Bible – Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus; and possibly four if you counted Samson.

Faith is believing that God is completely able to do what He said. He is able to perform it, bring it to pass – in His way, in His time and through whomsoever He pleases; if He pleases to use a whomsoever. Because of this faith – not human effort – God declares Abraham ‘Righteous’, clean, pure, sinless before God.

Since Abraham was declared righteous by faith so is everyone who believes God. Do you want to walk with God? Then, you have to agree with Him. You have to agree with Him about your sin [your bankruptcy]. You have to agree with Him that there is a wall of separation between you and Him. You must agree with Him about His Son Jesus. You must agree with Him concerning His Word – written and living.

“How can two walk together unless they be agreed” (Amos 3:3)?

Abraham was declared righteous by God, because he agreed with God. That just simply means he believed what God said.  He agreed with God.

Justification is not by human effort or obedience to law, and ordinances, or faith and grace have no merit. Justification is by grace through faith in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and raised from death as evidence of God’s approval upon His life and sacrifice giving us God’s righteousness by faith.

-Tim A. Blankenship